Comedy is deadly serious for Philip Nitschke

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Many a comedian fears “death on the stage”. Not loss of life, exactly, but that split second when a joke misfires and he loses the audience.

Jenny Kleeman, a journalist with The Guardian, has been following Australian euthanasia activist Philip Nitschke as he enters a new career as a stand-up comedian at the upcoming Edinburgh Comedy Fringe Festival in Scotland.

Much of her video report (above) comes from a workshop in London where Nitschke has been road-testing his show in front of members of Exit, his assisted suicide information group. Kleeman’s comments are telling: “Is Philip about to change the way we view the ‘right-to-die’ or is he about to ‘die on his feet’?”

As I watched the Exit crowd I found myself thinking of “the four Ws”, as many in the disability community would say. Indeed, the audience was “White, Well, Well off and Worried”. One participant interviewed parroted the… click here to read whole article and make comments



At last, someone with a plan for the silver tsunami!

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A TV show called “If Katie Hopkins Ruled the World” debuts next week in Britain. Ms Hopkins, a 40-year-old reality TV celebrity and a columnist for The Sun newspaper is what envious journalists call a “professional troll”. Whenever she opens her mouth, she hogs the headlines. The "queen of quotes" recently called for gunships to deter illegal migrants into Europe, calling them “feral humans” and “cockroaches” who are “spreading like norovirus”. 

Now she has swiveled her guns to take aim at the elderly. In a radio interview promoting her new show, she declared “We just have far too many old people”. If she were in charge, she knows what to do: “It's ridiculous to be living in a country where we can put dogs to sleep but not people,” she told her 69-year-old interviewer. She believes that the problem is readily solved.

“Easy. Euthanasia… click here to read whole article and make comments



All lives are worth saving

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(Laia Ros February 14, 2013)

There seems to me to be a cognitive dissonance in the suicide prevention arena that sets aside concerns about suicides when they are related to advocacy networks such as Exit International. This happens at a number of levels and in a number of ways - some perhaps understandable but none excusable.

Australia has one of the highest incidences of youth suicide in the western world. It makes good sense to focus resources in this critical area of prevention. But there’s something missing in the public discussion that should have become crystal clear from recent media coverage in the Fairfax press, where journalist Craig Butt reported on suicide deaths using Nembutal and highlighted its use by young people:

"New data from the national coronial information system shows 120 people died by taking Nembutal… click here to read whole article and make comments


MONDAY, 13 JULY 2015

Sponsors withdraw California suicide bill - for now

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Brittany Maynard's mother, Debbie Ziegler, flanked by SB 128 authors Senators Lois Wolk
and Bill Monning. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)


California’s assisted suicide bill remains on life support after its authors decided it did not have the numbers to pass the Assembly Health Committee. The three Democrats cancelled a scheduled hearing of SB 128 last week, saying they would continue to work with Assembly members “to ensure they are comfortable with the bill.”

The End of Life Option Act, the latest of several attempts to legalise euthanasia in California, would have a huge impact in the US if passed because of the state’s size and political influence. 

The bill is modelled on an Oregon law and received a boost after Californian Brittany Maynard, 29, moved to Oregon last year so that she could end her own life rather than suffer the pain… click here to read whole article and make comments



A virtual hospice

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Shelly Cory, executive director of Virtual Hospice, remembers when a distraught grandmother contacted the web-based resource. The woman was struggling with how to talk to her three-year-old grandson about his mother’s terminal breast cancer.

“Our team worked together not only to provide her with that guidance, but also to help find ways that mother and son could work together on projects to create a legacy for him,” recounts Cory. “We also offered support in how she could help her grandson in the days, months and years ahead.”

An easily accessible resource like Virtual Hospice that serves patients and loved ones is greatly needed. It’s estimated that only 16 percent of Canadians have access to quality palliative care.1 Virtual Hospice exists precisely to address the gaps in information and support.

A virtual palliative care… click here to read whole article and make comments



Belgium’s euthanasia establishment hisses back

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The name and the story of Belgian chemist Dr Tom Mortier (a MercatorNet contributor) has become known throughout the world. His physically well mother was clinically depressed. Yet in 2012 she was euthanased without his knowledge in Belgium. He and his sister were left to pick up the pieces.

His experience was recently described in a stunning feature in The New Yorker by journalist Rachel Aviv. Ever since his mother’s death Tom has been campaigning against legalized euthanasia in Belgium, much to the consternation of figures in the euthanasia establishment who have become the darlings of the media. 

“I am afraid that the notion of ‘free will’ has become dogma, behind which it is easy to hide,” Tom wrote in a Belgian medical journal. “Wouldn’t it be better to invest in mental health and palliative care?”

The establishment was indignant at this impertinence. Etienne Vermeersch, who… click here to read whole article and make comments


MONDAY, 29 JUNE 2015

The Economist backs Belgian model of euthanasia

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Editor-in-chief of The Economist, Zanny Minton-Beddoes   

The world’s most influential news magazine, The Economist, has a new editor-in-chief, Zanny Minton-Beddoes, its former business affairs editor. One of the very first issues on which she has chosen to campaign is the legalization of euthanasia. This week's cover story is "The right to die: why assisted suicide should be legal". It is illustrated by a snuffed candle with a smoking wick.  

In a podcast Minton-Beddoes says that there are three reasons for her stand. First, asssisted dying is  one of the great moral questions of our time, especially in the light of ageing populations around the world. Second, it fits neatly into The Economist’s philosophy of promoting autonomy and reducing government meddling. And third, public opinion can truly make a difference.

So, this week's leader (the editorial) contends that while life may be… click here to read whole article and make comments



Life? I’m not really that into it any more

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News flash from Brussels, the nihilism capital of the world! A 24-year-old healthy woman named Laura will soon be euthanased. The reason? Leven, dat is niets voor mij, she says: life, that’s not for me.

And Belgian doctors are happy to accommodate her, even though she is young and even though she is healthy. If she’s not really into life, why not check out the alternative?

A profile in the Belgian newspaper De Morgen tries to explain why Laura has scheduled her death.

She grew up in a dysfunctional household. Her father was drunk and abusive and her mother left him when she was only a year old. From then on she shuttled between her loving grandparents and her mother, who was drunk and slatternly.

By the age of six she was already thinking of suicide. She told the newspaper:

"That thought was very conscious… click here to read whole article and make comments


MONDAY, 22 JUNE 2015

Peter Singer ‘disinvited’ over infanticide interview

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Peter Singer is in hot water in Germany again over his controversial views.

The Australian utilitarian philosopher began his royal progress through Europe well. In late May he added another two honorary doctorates -- from the Universities of Athens and of Bucharest -- to his extensive collection of awards and distinctions. From there he went to Berlin to receive the inaugural “Peter Singer Prize for Strategies to Reduce the Suffering of Animals”. He was introduced in glowing terms by Maneka Gandhi, Indian Minister of Women and Child Development, who is president of People for Animals in her own country. A German politician explained why he was so popular: “Peter Singer's ideas are logical, free from religion and easy to understand”.

However, these glowing words were lost on a gathering outside where about 250 people had assembled to protest the invitation. Their message was that Singer believes… click here to read whole article and make comments


FRIDAY, 12 JUNE 2015

Assisted suicide off the boil in New Zealand

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On June 6 Justice Collins handed down his judgement in the High Court of New Zealand in a case brought by Lecretia Seales. Ms Seales had asked the court whether it would be an offence under the Crimes Act for her doctor to be able to help her die and whether a ban on assisted dying contravened the New Zealand Bill of Rights. In rejecting her application Justice Collins observed that:

"Ms Seales’ doctor would have been at risk of being prosecuted for either murder or manslaughter if she administered a fatal drug to Ms Seales intending to kill her. She would have been at risk of being charged with assisting suicide if she provided Ms Seales with a fatal drug, intending for Ms Seales take that drug and if Ms Seales died as a consequence."

This decision has significant implications in the wake of… click here to read whole article and make comments


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Careful! is MercatorNet's blog about end-of-life issues. We respect the dignity of each person from the beginning of life to its natural end. Leave your comments at the foot of our articles. The more the better! Write to us at editor@mercatornet.com.

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